Life Transitions: Workforce to Retirement Insurance Programs

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As your needs change, so should your coverage.

protectingfamiliesWhen you transition from one stage in your life to the next, there are certain changes you have to consider. Among them is your insurance coverage. Depending on your age and other factors, your coverage options may differ widely. We're here to help you evaluate your changing needs as you prepare.

When do you plan to retire?

Before age 65

If you’re retiring before age 65, you and your covered family members can extend your employer’s health plan in accordance with the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). You may also be able to enroll in your spouse’s employer health plan within 31 days of your qualifying loss of coverage, or a non-group health insurance plan through Sylvia Group or through the Massachusetts Health Connector. You should examine all of these options to see which plan(s) can provide you with the medical coverage you need at a cost you can afford.

At age 65

Many people wait until they are 65 to retire so that they can transition from their employer health plan to Medicare at retirement. You can sign up for Medicare during your Initial Enrollment Period, which begins 3 months before you turn 65 and ends 3 months after the month you turn 65. It’s important to know when to sign up and what benefits to sign up for. Otherwise, you may find yourself paying penalties to Medicare as a late enrollee.

Beyond age 65

The normal Social Security retirement age has increased for Americans based on legislation passed by Congress in 1983. Previously, early retirement benefits could start at age 62, with normal retirement benefits starting at age 65. Now, depending on the year you were born, normal retirement age is between ages 66 and 67 and financial incentives provide for even greater benefits by postponing Social Security up to age 70. As a result, many Americans are working well into their 60’s and beyond. Deciding when to retire, and when to start receiving your Social Security benefits, are important considerations which should be reviewed with your financial adviser, your spouse and family, and your employer.

Even though your Social Security benefits eligibility has changed, your Medicare eligibility has not changed. However, there are some rules surrounding your health plan options after age 65. As long as you remain enrolled in your employer’s health insurance plan, you may be able to postpone your enrollment in Medicare until a later date without facing any late enrollment penalties for Medicare. It is important to know how Medicare affects your employer health plan, especially in these circumstances:

If you have an HSA-qualified high deductible health plan (HDHP), and you and/or your employer are making contributions to your Health Savings Account (HSA), you cannot contribute to your HSA once you are enrolled in Medicare. However, you may be able to contribute to your HSA for the calendar year months prior to becoming enrolled in Medicare.

If you postpone enrollment in Medicare and stay on your HSA-qualified employer health plan, you can continue to make contributions to your HSA, but you must cease making contributions six months prior to your enrollment in Medicare. For more information on Medicare and the rules governing your HSA account, contact your HSA bank/administrator, your employer, your tax advisor or your health insurance advisor.

If you are working beyond age 65 and you are enrolled in your employer health plan, your options will differ depending on whether your employer has over 20 employees, in which case your employer plan is primary, and you can defer enrolling in Medicare.

If your employer has less than 20 employees, however, your employer may be exempt from Medicare Secondary Payer rules. In that case, Medicare is considered to be the primary payer. That means that you must enroll in both Part A and Part B Medicare to avoid any late enrollment penalties, and also to avoid gaps in coverage. If you remain on your employer plan, that plan would pay secondary to Medicare. If your employer plan includes prescription coverage that meets minimum standards under Medicare, you may be able to defer enrolling in a Part D prescription plan. Alternately, you may need to purchase a Medicare Supplement or Medicare Advantage plan on your own, including Part D prescription coverage.

There are many complex issues to consider when you work beyond age 65, so be sure to consult with a knowledgeable Medicare adviser.

What about other employment-based insurance benefits?

When you work beyond age 65, medical insurance is not the only benefit that is affected. Many employers who provide employee life insurance will have a scheduled reduction in life insurance amounts after age 65 or age 70. If you continue to work beyond age 65 or 70 and your life insurance benefit is being reduced due to age, you will have the option to convert your previous benefit to an individual policy, as long as you apply for conversion within the specified time in your group life policy. Depending on your health status, and how much life insurance you need, you should consult with a life insurance adviser to help you plan for life insurance needs during your working years and into your retirement years.

You may have disability income protection at work, which is designed to replace a portion of your wages if you are unable to work due to illness or injury. Depending on the type of disability insurance coverage you have, it may be affected by your eligibility for Social Security benefits. Be sure to review your coverage to make sure you know what to expect if you have an illness or injury, especially after your normal retirement age. 

You may also have dental, vision, accident, critical illness/cancer, and long term care insurance through work, either as part of your employer group plan, or as a voluntary benefit you purchased through payroll deductions. Depending on the type of coverage, it may be continued after retirement. Group dental and vision plans qualify for COBRA continuation, while voluntary benefits are often portable and can be continued after retirement by direct payment to the carrier. A knowledgeable insurance broker can help you review your options and recommend the best way to insure your needs after retirement.

If you are retiring, you can use Medicare in addition to a group health plan offered by your former employer.

While Medicare can aid in health care costs, it does not offer coverage for dental, vision, life insurance or travel. Therefore, you should consider all of these products as you transition into your retirement:

Provides health care to indiviudals who are 65 or older, disabled individuals who are entitled to Social Security benefits and people who have end-stage renal disease.

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Provides flexibility in premium payments, death benefits and the savings element of the policy.

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Helps provide for the cost of long-term care beyond a predetermined period that is not covered by health insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. Can include nursing home, assisted living facility, adult day care, or in-home assistance, depending on the policy.

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Coverage for dental care, including preventative and diagnostic care.
Coverage for ongoing vision care expenses such as routine eye exams, prescription glasses and contact lenses.
Coverage for medical expenses, trip cancellation, lost luggage, flight accident and other losses incurred while traveling, either internationally or domestically.
Subsidizes the costs of prescription drugs.
Coverage for medical bills and funeral expenses your loved ones may face after your death.
Move your retirement savings from your current retirement plan into an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). This allows you to keep your savings tax-deferred and typically gives you a broader choice of investments.
The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) gives recently retirees and laid off employees the right to choose to temporarily continue their group health benefits provided by their former employer.

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Customized coverage to meet your needs

Because we're an independent agency, we can work with multiple companies to find the policy and design the retirement insurance program that best suits your circumstances.

To speak with a Sylvia Group agent, call us at (508) 742-9247 or click on the button below and submit a simple form.

CONTACT OUR TEAM

 

Testimonials

  • “By giving, advocating and volunteering, Sylvia Group has proven they are dedicated to our community. Whether they are volunteering at one of our Day of Caring events or working with us to provide affordable health insurance and benefits to our employees, Sylvia Group does whatever they can do to make a difference for United Way of Greater New Bedford. The team at Sylvia Group is a trusted group of dedicated professionals, and we thoroughly enjoy working with them.”

    – MICHELLE N. HANTMAN, President and CEO, United Way of Greater New Bedford

  • “When I needed assistance with my business insurance program, Jill White immediately responded – and, even more important, she listened. She understood the challenges I had with my former agent, and she and the Sylvia Group team designed a program specific to my restaurant’s needs. I’m confident that with Jill’s expertise and personal attention, Fay’s is in good hands. That gives me the peace of mind to focus on what my family and I do best: serve delicious food and provide great customer service while running a successful business.”

    – EVELYN BETTENCOURT, Owner, Fay's Restaurant and Knotty Pine Fine New England Catering

  • “Sylvia Group is very resonsive to our ever-changing needs. Jill White provided us with wonderful support when we moved our child-care program location. She ensured that our coverage was seamless and that it met all of our program, licensing and funding needs. Sylvia Group always assists us immediately when we have questions and/or requests. We knw we are in good hands and that they have the best interest of our YWCA participants in mind. It's a pleasure to work with the staff of Sylvia Group; they are truly customer-focused.”

    – GAIL FORTES, Executive Director, YWCA Southeastern Massachusetts

  • “Thanks to John Beauregard and the professionals at Sylvia Group, our MassMEDIC membership has paid immediate dividends. Through the BIO Business Solutions® program, Primo Medical received a significant premium reduction on our Professional Liability policy. In addition, utilizing Chubb as our insurance provider and Sylvia Group as our broker, we’re confident that we have business partners who truly understand our insurance needs, provide outstanding loss control services and continue to work with us to lower our total cost of risk.”

    – CHRISTOPHER LAPLANTE, Chief Financial Officer, Primo Medical Group

  • "Getting the right insurance to guard against risks is absolutely critical for nonprofits, as well as other businesses; dealing with a costly claim could force a nonprofit to shut down permanently. Going with the Sylvia Group, we made the right decision and have never looked back. They have a thorough knowledge of nonprofits, where risks can oftentimes be more complex. They have gotten to know our mix of services, evaluated our insurance needs and designed an insurance program around our specific insurance coverage needs — allowing us, on a tight budget, to purchase the right amount and type of insurance at the best value. Sylvia Group staff have built strong, personalized helping relationships with our staff. I can sleep at night knowing they make sure that our insurance policies are adequate to cover our risk exposures. I have recommended, without hesitation, the Sylvia Group to my colleagues working in both the nonprofit and for-profit arenas."

    - MARIA A. ROSARIO, Executive Director, NorthStar Learning Centers, Inc.

  • “Sylvia Group is an attentive, professional and knowledgeable insurance agency. They are familiar with the ever-changing rules and regulations when it comes to independent, nonprofit schools., and John Beauregard always goes above and beyond for Friends Academy. Whether it is something small, like registering a new school vehicle, or something bigger, like filing a claim after our greenhouse was destroyed by a hurricane, he treats every question and every claim with utmost importance. Sylvia Group is invested in our program as well; John sponsors and participates in our yearly golf tournament. Sylvia Group is an exceptional insurance company that I would recommend to all my cohorts.”

    – KATHERINE FURTADO, Chief Financial Officer, Friends Academy

  • “The Sylvia Group team provides a multitude of services in all aspects of employee benefits. The team's dedication to their clientele is apparent through their willingness to provide trainings in your office, at their business and through valuable webinar resources. They are readily available to answer questions and help with any issues that may arise. CMHS, Inc. appreciates the relationship that we have enjoyed with the Sylvia Group throughout the years.”

    – JOHN WINTERHALTER, President, Comprehensive Mental Health Systems, Inc.

  • “I want to thank you for this incredible resource, ThinkHR. We will be accessing it frequently and appreciate Sylvia Group making this available to Advanced Eye Centers.”

    - PAUL C. ABRANTES, Executive Director, Advanced Eye Centers

  • “I love your staff. In the first three or four weeks after we moved over to Sylvia Group for our insurance, I have had more communication and attention from them than I had in the seven or eight years we were with our former agency! You have a great team.”

    – PAT CASSAN, Ocean Explorium

  • “I just wanted to take the time to recognize what a remarkable job Danielle Andre is doing. I cannot thank her enough for her time, her kindness and her willingness to make sure I’m comfortable with all the necessary changes that occurred from an insurance standpoint. As a whole, every Sylvia Group staff member has been friendly and knowledgeable, but Danielle has certainly gone above and beyond for me.”

    – SHANNON S., Personal Insurance client

  • “I so appreciate Julie Jennings' help with Medicare planning. It is a relief to be able to consult with a knowledgeable professional on insurance issues. I have no idea how people do this without such help.”

    – CHRIS BLACK, Personal Insurance client

  • “Working with Sylvia Group over recent years has taken our insurance issues from 'groans and moans' to 'no problem.' Rose Lopes, our Account Manager, is one of the most responsive people I have ever worked with. She responds immediately to questions or special requests. It is such a pleasure to work with Rose, who does whatever it takes to find a solution to our needs. We are very pleased… She always has our interests in mind.”

    – LYNNE FOLEY, Director of Human Resources, Five Star Companies, Inc.

  • "Sylvia Group is by far the best insurance agency I have ever dealt with, both personally and in my business. They provide customer support that is not found in other agencies. For example, they take a personal interest in their clients, calls are always taken or returned immediately, and during reviews suggestions are made to offer the most cost effective and comprehensive coverage. When claims occur, they have always been there to facilitate the process. It has truly been a pleasure to have them represent me in my insurance needs."

    - WILLIAM N. WHELAN, Chairman, Whelan Associates LLC

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